Liquidation as the fourth stage in the timeline of financial distress

Liquidation represents the 4th stage in the timeline of financial distress, after business rescue.

Liquidation provides for the realisation of a distressed company's assets and the distribution of proceeds to its creditors should business rescue not be attempted or be unsuccessful.

Technically the business or parts of it may be sold as a going concern, but preservation of the business as a going concern is the exception rather than the rule. 


Timeline of financial distress


View the position of liquidation in the timeline of financial distress.



Click on Timeline of financial distress table for a popup table explaining the four stages.

Open a new window with the web page of the Master of the High Court.

Liquidations are administered by the Master of the High Court of South Africa.

The daily respondent’s lists from The Master’s offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria Cape Town is published on this web site the following day.


Restoration of corporate value


View the restoration of corporate value at different levels of company health.

Liquidation industry

In 2004 it was reported that liquidations cost the SA economy R80bn (?) per annum.  The 18billion (?) per annum liquidation industry receives between 1300 and 1600 appointments per year.  There are 4 000 (?) liquidators in  SA.   Liquidation is big business compared to the turnaround industry.  

Note: the (?) figures come from various press reports and have not been verified.

The liquidation industry has been receiving harsh criticism from both the press and government. 

It is being accused of corruption, slow on BEE, in collusion with banks, incentivised by a lucrative liquidation fee structure, and therefore more intent on finalising the liquidation than with rescuing a company.

An overhaul of the sector is overdue.

In terms of the Insolvency Act, liquidators receive fixed fees, regardless of how long it takes to wind up a company.

They receive 10% of the gross proceeds of movable property sold, 3% of any immovable property or shares, and 6% on continuing business.

This means big fees can accrue when the bankrupt business is large, or where the winding up process is simple.

Government is of the opinion that the liquidation industry should give way to the national interests of job preservation and business rescue "and not merely to those of liquidators, secured creditors and their lawyers".

Accordingly, government is planning to introduce reform that will include statutory regulation and new business rescue legislation.

To this end, a ministerial committee of enquiry into the sector, instigated by justice minister Brigitte Mabandla, kicked off on 24th August 2004 (see box on the right).  The commission will also look at black empowerment for the sector. 


For a view by the a leading liquidations firm, see The future of the liquidations industry.

Go to liquidation statistics for annual and monthly compulsory company liquidation statistics.

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Links to service providers

Independent Trustees:

Dionne Lamprecht:

  • What is bankruptcy?
  • Plus how to file for bankruptcy, bankruptcy FAQ, the Insolvency Act, liquidations, claims forms, trustee's contact details, status of applications.

Liquidation links and downloads